Philosophy of God


#1

Hello one and all!

Quite awhile ago, when the site was under attack from crackers, I was knee-deep in a thread about whether God was logically necessary to the universe’s existence. When all the discussions were wiped out, I took a long breather from all things ontological. Probably for the best since I was logging about six hours a day writing my replies. Still, the issue isn’t really settled in my mind. I don’t want to completely abandon religion until I’ve really, really considered all the arguments on the other side. So, I’m looking for a few brave souls to re-enter the debate with me.

The issue was this: A few people on the board had said that God was a “necessary being”. He was a being whose existence couldn’t be questioned whose non-existence was impossible to conceive. I found the notion odd, as I’d been quite happily conceiving God’s non-existence for quite some time. When I started the thread, it was explained that the reason God was logically necessary was *something *like this:
[LIST=1]
*]God is that which causes all things to exist.
*]Things exist.
*]That which caused all things to exist must exist.
*]Therefore: God exists.[/LIST]Seemed pretty watertight to me. According to this formula, God must not only exist, but was logically necessary. It was impossible to think of something real being caused by something that was not real.

But… (It wouldn’t be a debate unless there was a “but”.) This doesn’t tell us anything about who, what, when, where, why, or how God/s/ess/esses exist/s/ed.
What the above formulation really proves is this:
[LIST=1]
*]For everything that is an effect there is a cause.
*]If an effect exists, the cause must also exist.
*]The known universe is an effect, or series of effects.
*]Since the universe exists, the cause (or causes) must exist.[/LIST]By labeling the Cause “God”, we haven’t proved anything except that God as cause exists. We don’t even know if God was/were aware that he/she/it/they caused the universe to be.
So… am I wrong?

I was hoping to set up some informal rules about posting on this topic, because the last time I attempted it, it got out of hand. So please:
[LIST=1]
*]Don’t post one-sentence answers. I’ve yet to read a one-sentence answer that was insightful. They don’t need to be essays, but I like reading things people have put some thought into.
*]Especially, don’t post a one-sentence link or book recommendation. If you want to post a link or recommendation after you have made your point, great. But don’t expect me to do your research and analysis for you.
*]Long lists of quotations are a huge drag. I’d like to know what the person posting thinks about the subject.
*]Saying things like “you should pray about it”, or “just open yourself up to the truth”, or “open yourself to the spirit”; while well intentioned and kind hearted, aren’t persuasive arguments. I’m really looking for persuasive arguments.[/LIST]


#2

I dont think your last paragraph works out. You have infact proved that God exists, whether you define it as a impersonal “cause” doesnt disprove the fact no “effect” can take place without this “cause”.
As for the last sentence, that doesnt work either. If God wasnt aware what He was doing that would not make him the cause but rather an effect!


#3

Hi.

Ok. So you’ve used St. Thomas’ first three proofs for God’s existence to get to the knowledge that there’s a “First Cause”, a “Prime Mover”, or a “Necessary Being”. That’s very good - a number of folks never get that far.

So what does this tell us?

Let us reason. So if the amount of time which is past is not infinite (which is logically cannot be), it must have started at some time. Prior to this time, God exists. Therefore, it is right to say that God is “outside of time”, a.k.a., eternal. Further, since change can only occur within time, God is also immutable (changeless).

Ok. So God is eternal and immutable. What else?

Well, God is also not matter. Matter logically requires time (Google Minkowski Space-Time for the science), and we already know that there was a time when time was not. There are only two things we know of which do not have matter - abstract concepts (like numbers) and intelligence (which can also be defined as spirit). Since abstract concepts are not and cannot be actors, we can safely reason that God is intelligent and/or that God is pure spirit. As a probabilistic proof, you can also see the Intelligent Designer argument to show that God is intelligent; this is St. Thomas’ fifth proof for the existence of God.

Is that all?

Of course not.

Let’s say you see two marble statues, and one is more beautiful than another. So for these two, one has a greater degree of beauty than the other (referred to as a greater gradation of a quality). From this you can reason that there is a perfect standard against which these qualities are measured. These perfect standards are contained in God. This is St. Thomas’ fourth proof for the existence of God.

But if this is so, it might be reasonable to think that one of these perfections is being, for being is greater than non-being. Coupling this with the understanding that an effect cannot be greater than its cause, God is that which nothing greater can be conceived. (This is Anselm’s Ontological Argument.) From this you can reason that God is perfectly Good, for a being who is perfectly Good is greater than a being who is imperfectly good. God is also perfectly Beautiful, as well as perfectly Loving. God is also infinite, omniscient and omnipresent, for all of these are greater than their imperfections. God is also One, because if there are more than one God there are limits to God (there is something in the other god which the first god is not) - but a God who is unlimited is greater than a God who is limited, and therefore God is One.

But if God is perfectly Loving, and matter did not always exist, and God is immutable, and God is one, a curious thing follows. In order to love there must be a giver and a receiver (a lover and a beloved). Since matter did not always exist, this necessarily implies a plurality of persons; but we know that God is One. Therefore there must be a plurality of persons within the One God, including both a lover and a beloved; further, this love must be perfectly reciprocated. In Catholic theology, this love is so perfect that it is real - so real that it is its own person within the plurality of persons in the One God. This is the Holy Spirit. These persons must all possess all attributes of the One God, and be relationally distinct in a substantial relationship. More on the Trinity here.

I hope that’s a start for you.

God Bless,
RyanL


#4

I’m not sue we are talking about the same thing. I’m certainly not trying to disprove cause and effect!

If we define God as “the Cause”, then I agree, God exists. The problem comes with all the other things that we use to define God: all-loving, all-seeing, all-knowing, active participant in the universe, the father, the son, the holy ghost, etc. We haven’t proved any of those at all. We have proven that there is a cause to all things caused. We have proved God by a very, very narrow definition of the word.

As for the last sentence, that doesnt work either. If God wasnt aware what He was doing that would not make him the cause but rather an effect!

I’m going to have to disagree. Imagine a person lit a cigarette, and tossed the match out the window while driving though the countryside. He is definitely the cause of the fire, even if he had no idea he started it. He isn’t an effect at all.


#5

Hello Everstruggling,

I am a little taken back by your statement, "I’d been quite happily conceiving God’s non-existence for quite some time." Being an intelegent seeker of how everything works, whether there is God or there is not God, have you ever thought about the the research you could do once united with God in eternal life? It seems to me that those bonded to God for all eternity exist outside of physical time as God does. I would have to think that those bonded to God for all eternity could research all that God has created in the physical world, from an omni-present to the whole of physical time prospective, along with what exists in the spiritual world, for the next hundred trillion, trillion, trillion, gazzillion years and beyond.

Spending the next 20, 40, 60 or 80 years fully focused on doing what God wills us to do in our physical time before judgement and then spend eternity, bonded to God, studying how things work, to me, would actually be the desired path to take for a seeker of how things work.

If God does not exist, then you only have the rest of your physical life, under 100 years, to contemplate study and search out the unknown. Then you die never to contemplate, think, research, or exist ever again for all eternity. I would think the same would be true if there is a God, but a researcher of how everything works, goes to hell for all eternity. I cannot see how this would be a “happy” thought to an inteligent researcher of how all that exists, works.

So I seek understanding as to how you, an inteligent seeker of knowledge and understanding of creation, the universe, the spiritual realm and beyond, would be “happy” with the concieved thought that God does not exist, given the two, or three, alternatives?


#6

Hey Ryan,

Thanks for such a detailed response.

I think there actually can be an infinite past, as long as the “beginning” is in the middle. If time moved forward and backward from the “beginning of time” then there could be an infinite past. It isn’t *logically *impossible. Time might travel in a forward ray from the past to the future, but it is possible to contemplate an alternative. It also doesn’t follow that God existed *prior *to time because being “prior to” is a function of time. If God exists outside of time, he can’t be described in terms of time. This might seem like a pointless objection, but there is a reason I’m bringing it up.

I do agree that God exists “outside of time”. At least, outside of *our *time. It might be that God exists in a time that has nothing to do with our time. Let’s imagine that the universe as we know it, is a computer program. The person who created the known universe (lets call it KU 1.0) set it up to start at a set point with set parameters. KU 1.0 would follow a set of rules that would allow it to project what would logically follow that point, and to project what changes would logically have lead up to that point. The programer would live in his/her own timeline without any relation to the timeline that we are in. The programer would be mutable in that different timeline.

In other words, God could be some computer geek named George who is so going to get an A+ on his midterm project.

But on the other hand, God might not be a conscious being at all. God might have no idea that God was in fact a god. We do know that God doesn’t exist in our time, but we don’t know that there is no time where God is, so it doesn’t have to follow that God is not matter.

I’m going to end this as part 1, and discuss the rest of your arguments as a part 2.

Thanks again.


#7

Hello Everstruggling,

I agree with you. This has been my thought all along. It is illogical, knowing what scientists know now, that there is a distinct line, thousands or tens of thousands of years ago, at the time a week before Adam was created, where scientists can say they have physical proof that matter, energy and empty space did not exist.

God existing outside of physical time and God being Omni-Powerful, was more likely to have, (ten thousand years ago or so), brought into existance, infinite past and infinite future physical time, in the form of, newly created, changing matter, energy and empty space.


#8

A caveat: this is not something that can be adequately addressed in a post on a message board. Some of the greatest minds in human history devoted their lives and thousands of pages to it…so, with that said…

There are two issues that are confused in your original post that I think are best highlighted by restating them:

  1. Does God exist?
  2. Does God have to exist?

These are two separate questions and the second question is unnecessary. Regardless of how you define God (agnostically, Judeo-Christian, etc.), if God does exist, then, by whatever definition, He has to exist, and we’ve eliminated the need to even consider the first part of your proof: God is not just** A** “cause,” He is THE cause (THE designer, THE mover, THE God). But wait, you say, you’ve assumed away the question: WHY does GOD have to be THE cause? For a Christian, this is a particularly easy inquiry: how do we know He is THE cause? He tells us He is (i.e., in the context of the Christian God, once you get beyond the question of His basic existence, the rest, inlcuding the question of whether he is necessary, is no longer philisophical, but religious or theological).

Isn’t that simply dodging the question? No…I’m saying that the question is unnecessary if not down right dishonest. You are asking me to prove something that **you **are assuming needs proof. I am supposed to prove to you why I believe there is a God when my belief is firmly grounded in something you do not want to discuss (namely, faith or, in Augustinian terms, faith gathered from the root of basic human truths (whether moral, scientific, or experienced)).

What do I mean? Well, again, that’s a hard discussion to have in a post on a message board. But at a basic level…and you’ve probably heard it put this way a hundred times…based on human experience, which of these is more believable:

  1. we come from a series of trillions upon trillions upon trillions of unbelievable coincidences that started somewhere at sometime in some space and lead to a purely coincidental evolution of a single celled organism into mankind-- that was all started from nothing and will end in nothing and was caused by nothing (and we may not actually exist anyway)–in other words, this is all an accidental coincidence that might not even exist and where no God is necessary… OR

  2. The tremendous order that exists in every creature and thing, our innate ability to sense right and wrong, to love, to feel, the thing that even lets this computer work and that gives you the ability (and free choice) to logically consider these weighty issues, is the result of an intelligent, loving Creator?

But isn’t this the same old tired and unhelpful assertion that there HAS to be a God without engaging the question of WHY? Well, Everstruggling, the basic proposition is, frankly, self defeating. In other words, once you have agreed in principle that there is A cause (as opposed to the potential that there is/was NO cause), the Christian has already won the argument-- i.e., the rest is intellectually unncessary because, regardless of what you CALL the cause (God, the pink unicorn, Saturn, etc.), you’ve already arrived at the starting point that allows the conclusion of the Christian (i.e., the cause is God). At that point, we’re necessarily back to a basic discussion on faith…a discussion, again, that you… Moreover, once we agree there is a cause, the Christian, relying on at least four thousand years of documented human experience with God (i.e., the Bible as well as personal experience)…gets to ask YOU the question, if not the Christian God, What? Or, better put, prove it was the pink unicorn…:slight_smile:

OK, but what about if there was “no cause,” Ala Steven Hawking, time has no beginning and no end (or the aetheist, a CAUSE is not necessary)? I would suggest to you that at this point, you are actually even closer to confirming the existence of God. Either that, or in danger of drowning in your own argument (which, again, could explain your frustration)…:slight_smile: In other words, how can we “be” if there is no cause? How can there be no beginning and no end? PROVE to me that we can exist if time has no beginning and no end. PROVE to me that I can be here typing to you with NO cause… hopefully, you see the point…unless, of course, you’re telling me this is all a dream, in which case you’re back to agreeing with me that there IS A CAUSE (i.e., something is dreaming).

Suggested reading? If you are looking for basics or readability, try Strobel. If you are looking for something deeper, and equally readable, try CS Lewis. If you are more interested in heavy hitting and things you can sink your teeth into, I’d try Augustine (Confessions-- though I’d caution you that he pretty much goes Plato on you), or Aquinas (Summa Theologica-- all of it). And if you’re beyond Pascal’s Wager and simple Anthropics, give Glynn (God: The Evidence) or Davis (God, Reason and Theistic Proofs) a run.

For Him.

G.


#9

Never took philosophy, and I’m not at all sure I could hold my own in a conversation about whether there HAS to be a God, or first cause, or whatever. But not only do I see design in the universe (random chance that plant leaves and nautilus show the Fibonacci sequence?), but there is no other way I can figure that scriptures written so far apart have so much typing and prophecy in them. (e.g., Abraham taking his only son up the hill to sacrifice him, his son carrying the wood - finding the substitutionary unblemished sacrifice in the thickets (thorns) - and wasn’t this the very hill where Christ was later crucified? - not sure about that last part) - prophecies of Bethlehem, which means bread? I think there is too much for it all to be coincidence


#10

As far as I know, we wouldnt know about God in terms of Father and Son and Holy Ghost apart from divine revelation. ( I would guess its the same with “all loving” “active participant”)

At the same time, all knowing and all seeing certainly must clearly be attributes to God. If God doesnt know all, then He cant be God by definition because the creation would be one step ahead of the Creator.

I’m going to have to disagree. Imagine a person lit a cigarette, and tossed the match out the window while driving though the countryside. He is definitely the cause of the fire, even if he had no idea he started it. He isn’t an effect at all.

I dont think that example works against what Im saying.
If God is outside time, and time is the first thing He created then He had to know what He was doing. To link this to your example, God creating time would correspond to the match starting the grass fire, the error here is that the match was set in motion by something greater. According to my position God creating time corresponds to the man who lit the match, the resulting fire would be a secondary effect.


#11

Here’s part 2.

Well, this is an entirely different argument than the first three.

  1. Qualities exist in degree.
  2. There is a perfect standard to which these degrees of qualities are measured.
  3. God is the perfect standard to which these degrees are compared.

This argument is so different, in fact, that even if it did prove God, it would actually prove the same God as the other proofs. Let’s call the perfect standard to which everything else is compared “the Ideal” and let’s a call the cause of all that exists “the Cause”. Even if both exist (my doubt lies with the Ideal) one would have to prove that the Ideal and the Cause are the same.

It is possible that the Cause only conceived of the Ideal in terms of the KU (known universe). According to the first post, you suggest that God is not matter, but God created a universe of matter. The Cause is capable of creating something that the Cause is not.

Also, an Ideal need not be an active agent. If nothing is required of the Ideal, then the ideal may be only a concept. Or the Ideal may exist outside of the Universe, in which case it need not be created by the Cause. And the Cause may have only modeled the universe on the Ideal which already existed.

The reason I argue the formulation might not even be true, is that the ideal is sometimes a completely incoherent, and contridictory construct of human beings. What is perfect beauty? Who has more of the quality of beauty, my fiancee or your wife? (If you don’t have a wife please substitute daughter, niece, mother, sister, girlfriend, or secret crush as appropriate.) Who gets to decide?

Also a perfect line and a perfect sphere are only similar in the degree to which they are perfect. Which shape is the most perfect?

But if this is so, it might be reasonable to think that one of these perfections is being, for being is greater than non-being.

Non-being and being are completely different. They are either or. You can not be 50% less existing than something else.
You have no degrees of beingness. Therefore one can’t be more than the other.

Coupling this with the understanding that an effect cannot be greater than its cause, God is that which nothing greater can be conceived.

Why can’t the effect be greater than the cause. I would postulate that in every real world example I can think of the effect is always greater than the cause.

I’m going to leave part 2 off there, as the rest of the points seem to hinge on things we’re already debating, and I feel like these points need further exploration before going on. Hope that’s okay with you.

Ever


#12

Saying things like “you should pray about it”, or “just open yourself up to the truth”, or “open yourself to the spirit”; while well intentioned and kind hearted, aren’t persuasive arguments. I’m really looking for persuasive arguments.

Ok ever struggling, shoot from the hip ok.

Prepare yourself for a rough journey. No prisoners taken.

Ask God!!

I mean meditate on what it is you want to know. set yourself time to think about it, I mean REALLY THINK ABOUT IT. Realise what it is you want to know.

Go into a state of prayer, pray with emotions switch turned to FULL ON! Ask the question and stand back so you do not get caught in the bang.

God will sock it to you. It will hit you right between the eyes.

Trust me and God :thumbsup:


#13

Everstruggling,

Yours was a very imaginative reply. Unfortunately, there are several problems both with part 1 and part 2.

Part I:

  1. You cannot bisect infinity. It’s mathematically and logically impossible. If you can quantize it (a thing necessary for bisection), it’s not infinite.

  2. Your idea of starting in the middle would result in a conception of time resembling a giant “V”. This is not “the future” and “the past” proceeding from the focal point, but rather *two *“times”. This is a rather queer idea, but it doesn’t get you “infinite time”. It gets you two “times”; to the best of my knowledge, there is no theoretical cosmologist who advocates this idea, nor is there a philosopher who believes this to be sound. That should give you pause.

  3. God as a computer geek. Again, very imaginative, but again not too philosophically sound. You’re not answering the question, merely abstracting from it. It’s akin to the scientists who say that the problem of abiogenesis can be solved by speculating that a comet first brought life to Earth. That’s nice, but it still doesn’t answer the question of how inorganic matter can suddenly become “animated” and spontaneously “decide” to reproduce. It merely forces us to ask where the aliens came from. Similarly, your geeky god idea forces us to ask where his time came from. What you’re proposing is, to use the phrase, turtles all the way down.

Now, I’ll agree that it’s not exactly appropriate to speak of God in terms of time (Him being outside of it and all). God is pure being - timeless - and if He were to refer to Himself I suppose I would simply expect Him to self-reference as “I am who AM”. Interestingly, that’s precisely what He does in Judeo/Christian revelation.

Part II:
I believe I’m not explaining the Ontological argument adequately, though I do believe I’m stating it accurately. Please read this short link in order that we might be on the same page. Further, I think I might agree with Aquinas that the Ontological proof isn’t valid, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. It may be. Even if it’s not a valid proof, it’s still a nice probabilistic argument.

  1. With your line/circle analogy you’re trying to compare incommensurables. This is logically invalid, and is (as Justice Scalia said) “… like judging whether a particular line is longer than a particular rock is heavy.” You can’t do it because it doesn’t make sense. That’s what incommensurable means.

  2. Being is greater than non-being. Yes, it’s binary and not a matter of degree – that doesn’t change the fact that being is still greater. If it’s not, might I ask why you don’t focus on effecting your own non-being, or why you decry some forcing non-being on others?

  3. Who has more beauty… It’s objectively true that one of them is more beautiful with respect to a given attribute. Who gets to decide? Wrong question. We don’t decide, it simply is. It’s like asking who gets to decide if an inchworm is shorter than a yardstick, or if a shoe is longer than in inchworm with respect to the yardstick. It simply is. No decision is necessary, and therefore you are asking the wrong question.

  4. If an ideal exists outside of God, God must be measured *against *that ideal. If this is the case, God is not God; He is not the fullness of perfection, and thus is lacking. Further, you still have even more problems, as you have to ask who created the ideal which is greater than this imperfect god. Saying that an abstract concept has always existed without one to conceive it seems at first blush to be a bit contradictory.

  5. As for causes being greater than effects, you might look here. It should show you where your thinking is going awry.

NOW…

What can you expect to *know *about God through philosophy and rational thinking? Not a whole lot, quite frankly. You can get some attributes (and not a lot more), but certainly not the Trinity or that God cares a great deal about us. Don’t expect to get there without Divine Revelation. There are good reasons for accepting the Divine Revelation in the Judeo/Christian tradition, but that’s less philosophy and more history and probability/reasonability.

God Bless,
RyanL


#14

Hi,

Okay, you caught me out, the thought of God’s non-existence doesn’t make me particularly happy. Unfortunately, the relative happiness or unhappiness I feel, or what system of belief would cause me the greatest happines, falls completely outside the scope of this thread. But, I am going to try and answer this in a way that does somewhat keep on topic.

If Catholicism were 100% true, then it would be foolish not to be Catholic. To knowinly fly in the face of truth, and act in a way that is repulsive to the one and only God, would be a mockery of common sense. I can see why Catholics who believe in the absolute truth of the Church are so miffed with those of us who seem to do just that.

However, on the off chance that Catholicism were completely wrong, then things would be quite different. If Catholicism were wrong theologically, then an intelligent seeker should abandon praying to a false God and taking part in meaningless rituals. Even the most hardened athiest would agree that there are some teachings of the church that are sound and should not be abandoned (well, the sane ones anyway), but everything should be questioned.

I think it boils down to this:

  1. If Catholicism is true, then being anything but a devout Catholic is foolish.
  2. If Catholicism is false, then being a devout Catholic is foolish.

I know that logical debate isn’t going to establish the truth or falsity of the Catholic Church. That is a matter of faith (or revelation). What I am trying to do is to establish how close to (or far from) Catholicism logic takes me. The purpose isn’t to prove whether there is the Catholic God, but to establish how reasonable that leap is.

Does proving the existence of a grand Cause support Catholicism? Many of the people on this board say “Yes, the Cause is the key! You can’t have a Cause without a knowlegable Creator. If you have to have a Creator, then ours makes the most sense.”

I’m arguing the other side. That you could have a Cause without the Catholic God. Now, I could be wrong. Or I could find myself tied up in theoretical knots trying to prove this. I have discovered (with a little help from another poster :o ) that one line of reasoning I took is a dead end. But the debate is worthwhile don’t you think?

Going back to your original post: Binding to God might be able to grant me an extension on my research project, but He puts serious limits on what research I can do. I think it is premature to partner up with Him until I see some proof that He can deliver on His promises. I might be limited on my own, but I do have more freedom in my research. Besides, there are those attractive offers from Vishnu and Buddha that I should consider as well.


#15

I’m a bit confused by what you are saying here. Are you saying that God created the world 10, 000 years ago, as specified in Genesis, and everything before that point was created in reverse? It’s certainly an interesting idea.


#16

Well Ryan has nailed this!
I couldn’t have put it better myself!
The kalam argument proves time is finite. His theological analysis of the necessity of the trinity was great. I would like to add that another proof of God being personal is in the existence of objective moral truth. Unintelligent forces cannot confer morality. I mean a force cannot say it is good to feed the hungry because it cannot say anything. If God were not a personal being then there would be no morality, that is, what you ought to do.
As for one being having less being than another, this is possible if you believe as Aquinas did; that evil is non being. Therefore the more evil a being becomes, the less being he has.


#17

Yeah, but we’re a lot smarter than they were. :stuck_out_tongue:

No, seriously, I agree. I hadn’t ever expected this to be the authorative discussion on theology in general. It’s more of a step along the road in my own (and other’s) research into the matter.

There are two issues that are confused in your original post that I think are best highlighted by restating them:

  1. Does God exist?
  2. Does God have to exist?

I agree completely, except that by “confused” I mean “Used with complete knowledge and understanding of the differences.” Take a look at the following argument:

Consider: I have a brother named Tom.

  1. I have a brother.
  2. My brother is named Tom.
  3. Therefore, I have a brother named Tom.

If both of the premises are true, then the conclusion is true. If either premise is false, then the conclusion is false.

Consider: My coffee cup is red, or my coffee cup is not red.

  1. My coffee cup is red.
  2. My coffee cup is not red.
  3. Therefore my coffee cup is either red or not red.

One of the premises has to be false, but the conclusion has to be true. Since the conclusion depends on only one premise being true, and one premise *must *be true (the two premises cover every available option), the conclusion must be true.

No matter what colour my coffee cup is, the conclusion in the second argument is true, but if I don’t have a brother (or he isn’t named Tom) the conclusion in the first argument is false.

Consider: I must have a brother named Tom.

  1. I have a brother named Tom.
  2. Therefore, I *must *have a brother named Tom.

If I do in fact have a brother named Tom, then it is not possible that I don’t have a brother named Tom. However, that is not proof that I must have a brother named Tom. The conclusion can’t prove the premise. I have to provide other proof that I have a brother named Tom.

There a several things that it is impossible to consider the non-existence of. I have a list I borrowed (with some modification) from John Doran. You can’t imagine a world without quantity, without property, without premise. There are some principles so basic that logic will fall apart without them. The question is: Is God one of them?

cont…


#18

But wait, you say, you’ve assumed away the question: WHY does GOD have to be THE cause? For a Christian, this is a particularly easy inquiry: how do we know He is THE cause? He tells us He is (i.e., in the context of the Christian God, once you get beyond the question of His basic existence, the rest, inlcuding the question of whether he is necessary, is no longer philisophical, but religious or theological).

My imaginary brother named Tom agrees with you whole-heartedly. He doesn’t think he needs proving either.

Isn’t that simply dodging the question? No…I’m saying that the question is unnecessary if not down right dishonest. You are asking me to prove something that **you **are assuming needs proof.

I go to my doctor and say, “Hey Doc, I’m having a fight with my brother named Tom. He keeps telling me that I need to get naked, paint myself blue, and run down mainstreet, and I don’t want to… I don’t look good in blue.” Is it intellectually dishonest for the Doctor to ask me to prove Tom exists?

You don’t need to prove God exists if you don’t want to. I never asked you to. I never asked Anselm or Aquinas to provide proofs either. Do you fault them for it? Since they have entered the debate, why is it intellectually dishonest for me to take up the other side?

You believe because you have faith. Great, fine, super. Go ahead, go with God. If you don’t want to consider the alternative, don’t. I’m sorry if you feel tricked into reading a thread that was distressing to you. I promise you need not read one word more. Participation is completely voluntary. I assure you one poor skeptic on a message board will do little to shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. Rest easy knowing that there are others, far smarter than me, who will easily trounce the best arguments I can muster.

In other words, once you have agreed in principle that there is A cause (as opposed to the potential that there is/was NO cause), the Christian has already won the argument-- i.e., the rest is intellectually unncessary because, regardless of what you CALL the cause (God, the pink unicorn, Saturn, etc.), you’ve already arrived at the starting point that allows the conclusion of the Christian (i.e., the cause is God).

A cause… any cause at all… means you win the argument.
Had you considered the possibility that there are other possible explanations? (And to me, better. I think the world looks more random than designed. Actually, I think the world looks governed by many different principles, but that’s to big an issue to deal with at the end of a post that is already too long.)

I’m going to try and quickly summarize my thoughts on the rest of your post.

You seem to be suggesting that if your conlusion is possible, then it is the best. It makes sense. It would certainly be foolish of you to be a Christian if you think that Buddhism is more logical.
You seem to be saying though, that because Christainity is older, more people subscribe to it, and it has a book to back it up, it is the standard to which all else must be compared. Since you have history and numbers on your side, it is up to me to prove a case against God.

I learned something very interesting in an archeology class once, “When you don’t know, don’t assume.” I have no way of knowing what could happen in a reality without time or space. I could propose lots of things about it. Some would be preposterous, some might be reasonable. I have never in this thread argued that God, as Christians see Him, can not exist. It’s certainly a possibility. The necessity of a Cause would point to the validity of one aspect of that belief. But not all, not even most.


#19

This is such a simple, beautiful post, written with such sincerety, that I don’t want to debate anything in it. I also see the beauty and the wonder the world. I am in awe of the delicate balance in nature, and the creative genius of human beings. We just come up with different reasons for why it is the way it is.


#20

You’re going to have to explain what you mean by “one step ahead of the Creator”, and why that is impossible. I don’t remember the part where we agreed that there was a Creator. So far, I’ve yet to be convinced that there was anything but a Cause.

I dont think that example works against what Im saying.
If God is outside time, and time is the first thing He created then He had to know what He was doing. To link this to your example, God creating time would correspond to the match starting the grass fire, the error here is that the match was set in motion by something greater. According to my position God creating time corresponds to the man who lit the match, the resulting fire would be a secondary effect.

Now I’m really confused. Time, if anything, doesn’t require conscious thought to create. All that has to happen is for something to change. Once you have change, any change, you have time. The first something happening is the beginning point for time.


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